Braunton’s new night-time air ambulance landing site is now operational thanks to a community fundraising appeal.
A public meeting last August saw huge support for a landing site on the Recreation Ground and as a result just over £3,000 was raised.
The rest of the £6,470.19 was matched with a grant from Devon Air Ambulance, the fruit of bank Libor fines.
Braunton Parish Council was granted permission in February for plans drawn up by the council and Braunton Caen Rotary Club alongside the Devon Air Ambulance Trust (DAAT).
The plans included a 10m steel column with LED lights illuminating the landing area, and a GSM switch, activated by mobile phone, which means the lights can be operated remotely when the helicopter is on its way.
The council funded the application, provided the site and will continue to provide insurance cover, power supply and ongoing maintenance.
Flights can now be made up to midnight and it is planned to extend the service until 2am in the coming months.
Council chairman Derrick Spear said: “I am delighted at the support received from the community and would like to thank all the organisations that have come forward to help with fundraising and to everyone who has donated to this worthwhile cause in particular the Braunton Caen Rotary Club.”
Toby Russell, community landing sites development officer at DAAT, said: “It’s great to see the night landing site become operational in Braunton and now we are able to reach local residents until midnight every day and later until 2am when we extend the service in the coming months.
“We’d like to extend a huge thanks to everyone that has helped drive the project forward including Patrick Farrelly MBE, the Rotary Club of Braunton Caen and Braunton Parish Council and all those who have helped with fundraising, what a fantastic community effort.”
Mr Farrelly, of Braunton Caen Rotary, added: “I am delighted to see this project come to fruition, giving the air ambulance the facility to operate into the village during the hours of darkness.
“The lighting pole itself appears rather insignificant on the Recreation Ground, dwarfed even by the adjacent street lights, but its impact could be immense, particularly if it serves to save even one life.
“My thanks to my fellow Rotarians for their support and to all of those who contributed towards the costs.”
Special thanks to: Thanks to Braunton Caen Rotary Wheels (£132.13), local buskers (£146.16); public collections via L Clarke and Sons, Slee’s Home Hardware and Top N Tails (£548.09); Just Giving page (£666.08), Braunton Community Chat (£65), as well as donations from the Vivian Moon Foundation (£464.86) and Compass CHC (£1000).